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The Xbox is Microsoft's game console, released on November 15, 2001. It is Microsoft's first independent venture into the console arena, after having collaborated with Sega in porting Windows CE to the Sega Dreamcast console. The price is currently 149 USD, 149 EUR, 99 GBP, 200 CAD, 249 AUD, 290 NZD and 1200 NOK. Notable launch titles for the console include Amped, Dead or Alive 3, Halo: Combat Evolved, Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, and Project Gotham Racing.


The Xbox was initially developed within Microsoft by a small crew including Seamus Blackley, a game developer and high energy physicist.

While some critics were initially concerned that the Xbox would allow Microsoft to extend its dominance of the PC software market to consoles, as of February 2005 estimates show the Xbox's share of the worldwide console market is only comparable to the Nintendo GameCube and far behind the PlayStation 2. The Xbox has not sold well in Japan, due to the Japanese people's poor acceptance of non-Japanese consoles, limited Japanese developer support, few game choices and the large size of the hardware itself. In much of Europe, the Xbox is currently slightly ahead of the GameCube, but is still far behind the PlayStation 2. Microsoft predicted that it would not make a profit on the Xbox for at least three years and that turned out to be correct; the division had its first profitable quarter in 2005.

In November 2002, Microsoft released the successful Xbox Live online gaming service, allowing subscribers to play online Xbox games with (or against) other subscribers all around the world and download new content for their games to the hard drive. This online service only works with broadband. The milestone of 1 million subscribers was announced in July 2004.

As with all consumer electronics, several internal hardware revisions have been made to discourage modding, cut manufacturing costs, and to provide a more reliable DVD-ROM drive (the early units' drives were prone to failure).


Microsoft built the Xbox around industry-standard PC hardware, unlike the traditionally proprietary design of nearly all other gaming consoles. However, it still uses standard console architecture.

The inclusion of the hard disk not only serves as a disk cache for faster game loading times compared to the PS2 and repository for saved game information (eliminating the need for sold-separately memory cards), it also allows users to download and save new content for their games from Xbox Live and copy music from standard Audio CDs so players can partially or completely replace the soundtrack of Xbox games that support Custom Soundtracks, all firsts in console history. Custom Soundtracks are often supported in non-cinematic games (e.g. racing/driving games) where the music is inconsequential to what is happening in the game.

The Xbox is much larger and heavier than its contemporaries, and shipped with an unusually large controller. This is largely due to the large, tray-loading DVD-ROM drive and the standard-size 3.5" hard drive. Despite managing to be smaller and lighter than similar commodity PCs, the Xbox has found itself a target of mild derision, as gamers poke fun at it for things like a (overly cautious) warning in the Xbox manual that a falling Xbox "could cause serious injury" to a small child or pet. While some elements of the Xbox's design, like break-away cables for the controllers to prevent the console from being yanked from the shelf, take the size into account, it has undoubtedly hurt the system's sales to the space-conscious Japanese.

Although the Xbox is based on commodity PC hardware and runs a stripped-down version of the Windows 2000 kernel using APIs based largely on DirectX, it incorporates restrictions designed to prevent uses not approved by Microsoft. The Xbox does not use Windows CE due to Microsoft internal politics at the time, as well as limited support in Windows CE for DirectX.

Another common complaint about the system was that the original game controller design was seen as too large for some people. For the Japanese Xbox launch, a new and smaller controller was introduced, a design which was subsequently released in other markets as the "Controller S", which eventually replaced the original design. Currently, all Xbox consoles come with a "Controller S", and the original version of the controller (also known as 'The Duke') is no longer sold.

Detailed Specifications

  • CPU: 733 MHz Intel pentium III processor with a 133MHz Front Side Bus
  • Graphics Processor: 250 MHz custom chip named the NV2x, developed by Microsoft and nVIDIA (comparable to a low-end GeForce 4 Ti card)
  • Total Memory: 64 MB DDR SDRAM running at 200 MHz, supplied by Micron
  • Memory Bandwidth: 6.4 GB/s
  • Polygon Performance: 125 million flat-shaded polys/second
    • (Microsoft figure. Some critics assert that the Xbox's polygon-per-second number is exaggerated by unrealistic testing conditions.)
  • Sustained Polygon Performance: 100+ M/s (transformed and lit polygons per second)
  • Micropolygons/particles per second: 125 M/s
  • Particle Performance: 125 M/s
  • Simultaneous Textures: 4
  • Pixel Fill Rate - No Texture: 4.0 G/s (anti-aliased)
  • vPixel Fill Rate - 1 Texture: 4.0 G/s anti-aliased
  • Compressed Textures: Yes (6:1)
  • Full Scene Anti-Alias: Yes
  • Micro Polygon Support: Yes
  • Storage Medium: 2-5x DVD, 8 gigabyte hard disk, optional 8MB memory card
  • I/O: 2-5x DVD, 8GB/10GB hard disk, 8MB memory card
  • Audio Channels: 64 3D channels (up to 256 stereo voices)
  • 3D Audio Support: Yes
  • MIDI DLS2 Support: Yes
  • AC3 (Dolby Digital) Encoded Game Audio: Yes (via TOSLINK)
  • Broadband Enabled: Yes (10/100base-T ethernet)
  • DVD Movie Playback: Yes (separate DVD Playback Kit/Remote required)
  • Maximum Resolution (2x32bpp frame buffers +Z): 1920(vert.)x1080(horiz)
    • Note: NTSC (Non-HD) TV's have less than 500 horizontal lines. PAL TV's have less than 600 horizontal lines.
  • HDTV Support: Yes, 480p/720p/1080i (see game boxes for supported resolutions)
  • Controller Ports: 4 proprietary USB-based ports
  • Weight: 3.86kg
  • Dimensions: 324 × 265 × 90mm (12.8 × 10.4 × 3.5 inches)
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